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Factors that influence your Chess progress - I

Dec 28, 2015
StaffCoach 2161

In today's world, finding the right chess training material is a piece of cake. All the chess resources a player ever needs is only a google search away. Be it videos on youtube, torrent files of chess software, pdf books or good blogs, it's all out there. The availability and flow of information has evolved gigantially. And yet, the progress of a chess player armed with all the material in the world, is not always as vigorous. Why is that? I took the case of, well, myself, and made a list of factors that influence our chess progress. And here's what I found! 

The Chinese Bamboo tree has something to do with our chess progress! Also, just playing so many tournaments doesn't guanrantee success.

Read on, and you'll find out what I mean.


Learning commitment/consistency:

Everyone solves puzzles in this journey, and everyone analysis his/her game out of curiosity to see what went wrong, but to make steady progress, there should be a commitment to learn consistently everyday. Are you committed to making progress in Chess? This is the first factor that influences your Chess progress.

Hardwork is a common denominator found in many successful players. Take the eleventh World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer for example. He is believed to have once said that all he needed was a small room in an apartment with a window and his small hand-held chess set with his books.

Similar stories are told about Alexander Alekhine and Mikhael Botinnik.

"Capablanca never took his eyes off the chorus; Alekhine never looked up from his pocket chess set." – A patron who took both players to a show in 1922.

Learning process:

Several years ago, I had my first taste of tournament victory. I thought that it was essential to keep playing many tournaments to keep getting better. So, I started playing several tournaments in a row, only to fall sick after 9 consequtive tournaments. My rating fell by a couple of points near the end. It was then that I realized that to get better in Chess, one must have a healthy learning process and not just concentrate on one aspect of chess.

Play: Playing is essential to get more exposure, and to also test our ideas at the Chess board.

Analyze: Analysis is the process of reviewing your games, and tournament performances to find out what you could have done better.

Study: Study involves improving your knowledge about the different aspects of your game. It could be through books, or digital material.

Solve: Solving is an essential process in Chess. Solving chess tactics puzzles, or endgame studies everyday keeps your calculation sharp and accurate.

Research: If you are playing high level chess, you'll have to research about your potential opponents, or find out new ideas in the opening phase.

If you observe stronger players in their day to day activity, you''ll notice that this process is already a solid working habit for them, and they just keep working on it everyday, consciously or unconsciously.

What is your learning process? Are you conscious of it?
Where are you spending most your time on?

Chess and Chinese bamboo tree:

When I contemplate about chess progress, I feel that in someway success in Chess is related to the Chinese bamboo tree. I remember this example vividly from my days as a volunteer in a non-profit teaching life-skills to kids.

In our first meeting before we started teaching these kids, we were told a story.

The story of the Chinese bamboo tree. If a farmer were to sow these seeds, and start watering them, he's going to need a LOT of patience.

If he waits for a week, and stares at the ground, he won't see anything. It's going to be the same even after several months.

How about one year? No, nothing will shoot from the ground.

After three years, a small sapling will emerge from the ground. And in a span of few weeks, it will grow to more than 90 feet.

Had the farmer lost hope in his seeds at any point, he wouldn't have seen this growth. The secret to this growth is that he watered the plant every single day. Failing which, he might have killed the plant.

So, how long did it take for the plant to grow that high? 6 weeks?

No, 3 years! All the while, the Chinese bamboo tree has been growing under the ground -- developing the roots, making it firmer everyday!

At the non-profit meeting, We were told that these kids are like the Chinese bamboo trees. The life-lessons were seeds that would sprout in them after many years, but if we stop nurturing it, it would fail.

I imagine the same for our chess journeys. 

Stay tunes for the next part of this article where I'll be writing about the other factors that influence the growth of a chess player like being part of a chess ecosystem, the importance of knowing yourself, motivation, perspective and perception. If you have any questions, do share it as a comment below. Thanks for reading.


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sssaaammm_play 10:05 - 1 Jan 2016
excellent article @ arjun .............. eager for the upcoming one.
panacea 09:29 - 9 Jan 2016
Hi Arun, Good article. Loved your story about the bamboo tree. It inspired me to read more about bamboo trees. Hope I'm not the kind of bamboo that only flowers once every onehundredandtwenty years;-)
yuvraj15 00:40 - 10 Apr 2018


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